Eagles

Zach Ertz's silent season continues: 'My number just not being called'

Zach Ertz's silent season continues: 'My number just not being called'

ARLINGTON, Texas — Zach Ertz’s nightmare 2016 continued Sunday night, when the fourth-year tight end had just 19 receiving yards, his third straight game below 25 yards.

Ertz, who had 702 yards in 2014 and 853 last year, has just 150 in five games this year and is on pace for a career-low 420.

“My number is just not being called right now,” Ertz said. “I’ll never second-guess the coaches. I’ll never second-guess Carson (Wentz). That’s just the way the games have gone.

“Obviously, you want to be involved each and every play. But that’s not really the case right now.”

Ertz had 469 yards as a rookie. Over the 2014 and 2015 seasons, he ranked sixth among all NFL tight ends with 1,555 receiving yards.

And he had catches of 13 and 14 yards on the Eagles’ first drive of this season against the Browns. Those remain two of his four-longest catches this year.

Ertz had just one catch in the Washington and Minnesota games and was just 4-for-19 Sunday night in the overtime loss in Dallas.

In Ertz’s defense, he’s just not being targeted nearly as much as in the past.

In 2014 and 2015, Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford targeted Ertz an average of 6.5 times per game. This year, that number is down to 4.0 per game.

And when Ertz does catch the ball, he’s either not in open space or he’s been unable to break loose of a tackler.

Ertz doesn’t have a catch longer than 22 yards this year after piling up 19 receptions of 23 yards or more in his first three NFL seasons.

He did miss two games with an injury, but Ertz — after ranking sixth among all tight ends the last two years — now ranks 32nd with 15 catches and 31st in yards.

“I’m just out there trying to do my job, block to the best of my ability, get up when my name is called for a pass play and catch the ball when it’s in the air,” Ertz said.

“That’s all I can do. Be ready when the ball comes my way. Everything else is out of my control.”

It’s not like the other tight ends are doing anything either. Brent Celek has one catch for seven yards in the last four games, and Trey Burton is 3-for-18 in the last four games.

Asked Sunday night at his locker at AT&T Stadium if he's frustrated, Ertz said: "I'm frustrated when we lose. This was a game that we feel like we should have won, and we didn't. That's what's frustrating to me."

Nick Foles breaks down his ‘crazy situation’ with Eagles

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Nick Foles breaks down his ‘crazy situation’ with Eagles

At some point this summer, Carson Wentz will be cleared to play football.

And Nick Foles will pick up a clipboard and go back to the bench. The Super Bowl MVP will once again be a backup.

“It is a crazy situation,” Nick Foles said this week. “I don’t know how many times it’s happened.”

It’s never happened. No quarterback has ever been a Super Bowl MVP and began the next season as a backup.

But this is a unique set of circumstances. Wentz remains the unquestioned Eagles quarterback of the future. And Foles, as long as he’s here, is his backup.

“It’s not easy, because part of you wants to be able to lead a team and stay in the huddle,” Foles said Tuesday.

“But I’ve been very blessed to have experienced so much in my career so whenever those thoughts sort of hit you, you have to home back in and take what I learned early in my career, when I went to St. Louis, when I went to Kansas City, when I came here, that I really just need to worry about today, because tomorrow’s not guaranteed. This moment is. And I’m going to enjoy it and do it to the best of my ability.

“And it really makes everything a lot easier. Because whatever is going to happen is going to happen. A lot of it I have no control of it. If I’m traded, it’s really not my decision, so why would I even worry about it?”

Wentz was having a record-setting season when he tore up his knee Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Foles responded with a record-setting postseason.

But Wentz is 25 and Foles is 29. When Wentz is healthy, he will start.

“My (role) right now is to help this team in practice while Carson’s getting healthy, which I’m excited for,” he said. “I want him to get back out there and get healthy and get back to (being) Carson Wentz.

“I want him to (pick up) off where he left off. That excites me from a friend’s perspective and a teammate’s perspective.

“My mindset won’t change. There’s definitely times where I’m tempted to look at the future, like any of us are. I’d be lying if that wasn’t the case. But you have to reel back in and stay in the present because that doesn’t do you any benefit.”

Foles said he’s had people tell him he should have demanded the Eagles trade him so he can start now.

And after his record-setting postseason, it would be understandable if he did.

“I’ve seen both sides of it,” he said. “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Do I want an opportunity to run a team again? Absolutely. But am I trying to run away and do it right now? Well, I’m grateful to be here.

“There’s so much here that I really enjoy and I love it here. So I’m not banging on the table. I’m really grateful to be in this moment.”

Some people made a big deal about Foles telling an Austin television station that he would like to be a starter again, but anybody who knows Foles already knew that.

“All I’m telling y’all is what y’all already knew and everyone knew,” he said. “I can’t believe that I had to actually come out and say that I want to be a starter again. Because I’ve always believed your actions speak louder than words. I shouldn’t have to come out and say that I want to be a starter again.

“The key is to go out on the field and lead your team and show people, ‘This guy is a good guy in the locker room, he can lead a team, he did it on the field, and he’s shown it.’

“Right now, I’m a part of this team, I’m a piece of the puzzle, I’m going to help this team win in any way possible, and whatever my role is, do it to the best of my ability and do it with a lot of joy. Because I’ve seen the other side of it, and I have a lot of joy going to work here.”

Emotional Jason Kelce explains origin of epic speech

Emotional Jason Kelce explains origin of epic speech

More than two months after Jason Kelce gave that now-famous and impassioned vulgarity-filled speech on the steps of the art museum, the emotions that led to it haven’t dissipated. 

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia folk hero got choked up trying to explain the impetus of his words for the first time since he spoke them. 

“I found myself literally [after] the Vikings game in the shower, like,” Kelce said before pausing. 

He choked back tears for a full five seconds. 

“Goddamnit,” he said under his breath, cleared his throat. Another three seconds passed. 

“You get pretty emotional, you’re crying,” said Kelce, recomposed. “And all of that, after the Super Bowl, after the game is finally over, I’m running on the field and I still can’t believe it happened. And it all hits you all at once. I think that’s what the whole speech was. It was the culminating of all the stories I’m thinking about at night, I can’t go to sleep, of how I got there. Then you start thinking about how everybody else got there. Then you start thinking about how the city got there.”

Kelce said he didn’t know how much his speech would resonate with fans and that’s not why he gave it anyway. He delivered his speech because in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, he began thinking about all the adversity he had overcome. He didn’t get a scholarship coming out of high school, needed to prove himself at a new position, and not long ago even questioned his own ability to still play at a high level. 

Then he realized it wasn’t just him. He thought about all of his teammates and what they went through. Then he thought about the city’s waiting to get a Super Bowl. 

The epic speech was born. 

“The whole speech was a realization of myself, realizing that I’m not the only person that’s been through something,” Kelce said. “I’m not the only person that’s had to go through [something]. Literally everybody has had something that they’ve overcome. Everybody’s pushed through. Everybody’s persevered through some sort of adversity and that was kind of the mantra the whole season. We had so much adversity, injuries, all these things happening. It just seemed like nothing could stop us.”

Since the Super Bowl and the speech, Kelce has become a wanted man. Everyone wants a photo and everyone tries to get a mic in his hand. A lot of people expect Kelce to be a great speaker, but what he said at the art museum that day had been building for years. He won’t always have that magic. 

While Kelce has spoken to some of the other local teams and his face appeared on beer cans with proceeds going to charity, Kelce has turned down most offers. Because of added fame, Kelce said just going out for breakfast is more difficult these days; and we all know what happens when Kelce doesn’t eat breakfast. 

He understands the new level of fame, though. It comes with the territory of helping the city achieve its dream. There are too many stories to list of fans telling him how much it meant to them and he understands the Eagles are glue for families in the region. He remembered one teammate walking up to him at the parade after a fan poured the ashes of their grandfather into his hands. The teammate didn’t know what to do and Kelce didn’t have any answers either. 

“It’s one of those things for the first seven years,” Kelce said, “that’s all anybody ever talked about when they came up and talked to you as an Eagle. They were like, ‘Just get us one. We’ve been waiting forever.’”

That’s pretty emotional stuff. You’ll forgive Kelce for getting choked up.